WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday that he is willing to return to the United States once Chelsea Manning is released from prison in May.
Assange said last week that he would abandon his exile home in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the U.S. if President Obama freed Manning, who has been imprisoned for more than six years for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents through the WikiLeaks website.
Obama commuted Manning's sentence Tuesday. She is set to be released from the Army’s prison at Fort Leavenworth on May 17. Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison, would not have been eligible for parole for another six years.
A lawyer for Assange backpedaled after the White House announcement, saying Assange had called for Manning's immediate release.
"I stand by everything I said (last week), including the offer to go to the United States if Chelsea Manning's sentence was commuted," Assange said at a press conference Thursday. "It is not going to be commuted until May. We can have many discussions to that point."
The native Australian said he has always been willing to go to the U.S. "provided my rights are respected."
Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault, and the United States, where he fears possible espionage charges. Assange says he fears he could already be named in a sealed U.S. indictment.
President-elect Donald Trump has sided with Assange on multiple issues in recent weeks, particularly Assange's assertion that Moscow did not leak the damaging emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chief John Podesta that were published by WikiLeaks.
"Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" Trump tweeted.